Eagles rookie report: Barnett's best game; Hollins' 1st score

Eagles rookie report: Barnett's best game; Hollins' 1st score

The rookies contributed in a big way to the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Redskins at the Linc on Monday night (see breakdown).

First-round pick Derek Barnett played his best game, WR Mack Hollins scored his first TD and RB Corey Clement showed off his improving skill set for the 6-1 Eagles.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights in this week's rookie report.

1st quarter, 5:05, 1st-and-10 at WAS 7 - Redskins 3, Eagles 0
Corner Rasul Douglas was the first rook to make a play in this one. Playing off coverage as he has for most of the season, he lined up against WR Ryan Grant, the lone receiver on the left. Grant ran a short hitch. Douglas made another aggressive play on the ball, reading the route and the quarterback and tackling Grant immediately for a three-yard gain.

1st quarter, 4:26, 2nd-and-7 at WAS 10 - Redskins 3, Eagles 0
Barnett made a rookie mistake on this play. QB Kirk Cousins faked the handoff to RB Rob Kelley to the right and then rolled back to his left. With all of Barnett's momentum going right, a slight chip block from TE Jordan Reed knocked Barnett off balance. As Barnett is on the ground, Cousins was allowed to roll left and find TE Niles Paul for a 32-yard completion.

1st quarter, 3:05, 3rd-and-2 at 50 - Redskins 3, Eagles 0
It didn't take long for Barnett to get redemption. The Redskins unwisely tried to block Barnett with a tight end. This might work on defensive ends who don't have a high pursuit level, but as we've seen, that's not the case with Barnett. Every play that I've seen him 1-on-1 against a tight end, he won the matchup with ease. He got right around Reed and brought down Cousins for his first solo NFL sack (he recorded a 1/2 sack last week in Carolina). 

2nd quarter, 3:19, 2nd-and-16 at PHI 36 - Redskins 10, Eagles 3
This was really the turning point of the game. The Eagles couldn't get much going and Carson Wentz just took a sack to make it 2nd-and-long. Hollins lined up on the line to the right with Alshon Jeffery bunched behind him. Hollins ran down the field and gave a great head fake on a corner route to safety D.J. Swearinger before he turned on the jets and left Swearinger in the dust. Wentz threw a dime and Hollins snagged his first NFL touchdown. The route tree at North Carolina isn't exactly sophisticated. It's something Hollins has worked on and it really showed on this play.

3rd quarter, 9:43, 3rd-and-goal at WSH 9 - Eagles 17, Redskins 10
If the Hollins' touchdown was the turning point, this might have been the nail in the coffin. Coming out of the locker room, the Eagles drove right down the field and were in danger of having to settle for a field goal. Wentz lined up in the shotgun with Clement lined up next to him on the right. Washington sent a heavy blitz. Clement ran a wheel route on LB Zach Brown. Wentz defied physics to get off a tremendous throw under pressure. Brown had tight coverage but the ball is in a perfect spot where only Clement can get. And boy did Clement get it. He made an unbelievable catch and did an even better job keeping his feet in bounds.

3rd quarter, 4:12, 2nd-and-6 at PHI 48 - Eagles 24, Redskins 10
This was a tremendous play by Barnett. He set a hard edge on a bull rush against perennial All-Pro tackle Trent Williams and drove the veteran tackle backwards. He then came from behind to tackle Kelley for a one-yard loss. This play was even more impressive than the sack given it was against arguably the best left tackle in football.

4th quarter, 12:59, 3rd-and-6 at PHI 48 - Eagles 24, Redskins 17
This was an interesting play call. Doug Pederson either saw something the Redskins were doing on third down or really trusts his defense. Clement took the ball off tackle left. Backup tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai did a great job driving his defender backward while Clement patiently waited behind him. Clement was able to get the first down and keep what eventually turned into a touchdown drive going.

Analysis
Barnett was tremendous. He looked like a completely different player than he did in Week 1 against Williams (granted Williams has been hobbled by an injury). He's starting to get more comfortable in his secondary pass rush moves, including breaking out a nice spin move on one play. His confidence is growing week by week (see Roob's observations). With his two sacks tonight, he's now recorded 2.5 sacks the last two weeks. Not too shabby.

When Hollins was drafted by the Eagles, they acknowledged his prowess on special teams, but Howie Roseman was quick to point out that Hollins was more than that. He certainly showed that tonight. As previously mentioned, route running wasn't considered Hollins' strength coming out. But you could see on his college tape that he had the quick feet and suddenness to turn into a decent route runner. Hollins had just one catch, but he made it count.

Clement had a fumble in the fourth quarter that he recovered but maximized the rest of his touches. The work he's put in on becoming a better pass catcher has clearly paid off. And yet again he shows off his patience and vision when running the ball. Not bad for a guy who seemed like a long shot to make the team when the preseason started.

Jake Elliott apparently is human. After making his 12th straight kick — a 50-yarder — earlier in the game, he missed a 45-yard field goal with 21 seconds left.

Grading the Eagles' 34-24 Week 7 win over the Redskins

Grading the Eagles' 34-24 Week 7 win over the Redskins

Grading the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.

QUARTERBACK

Carson Wentz: 17/25, 268 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT

Four drives into this game, Wentz had completed 2 of 7 attempts for 24 yards with two sacks and an interception. On the Eagles' fifth possession, he connected with Mack Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown, and it was almost as if a weight had been lifted. Wentz hardly missed a throw the rest of the way. He also made plays with his legs, rushing for 63 yards. Even his interception on the first series of the game effectively amounted to a long punt on 2nd-and-forever. This kid simply cannot be stopped right now (see 10 observations).

Grade: A-

RUNNING BACKS

Wendell Smallwood: 8 ATT, 25 YDS

You have to appreciate the way Smallwood runs — when he's healthy enough to play. He can explode through a hole and make a man miss, but will doesn't shy away from contact and always fights for extra yards. There simply wasn't much room to run against Washington. LeGarrette Blount didn't fare any better, either, carrying 14 times for 29 yards.

Grade: C+

WIDE RECEIVERS

Mack Hollins: 1 REC, 64 YDS, 1 TD

Hollins' touchdown changed the complexion of the entire game. Up until that moment, the Eagles were trailing 10-3, and the offense was struggling to move the football. Then they scored touchdowns on three straight possessions, going up 24-10 in a matter of roughly eight minutes. Nelson Agholor added four receptions for 45 yards and a score. But what's the deal with Alshon Jeffery? Even against Washington's depleted secondary, he could not get open, catching just two passes for 37 yards on six targets.

Grade: B+

TIGHT ENDS

Zach Ertz: 5 REC, 89 YDS, 1 TD

Another week, another big game for Ertz. I honestly couldn't tell you what kind of night he had blocking, but does it matter when he continues to produce at this level?

Grade: A+

OFFENSIVE LINE

Jason Peters: Exited game in 3rd quarter (knee)

For the second week in a row, the O-line experienced issues early. Lane Johnson in particular looked rusty after missing last week with a concussion — granted, he had his hands full with Ryan Kerrigan. The unit began settling down in pass protection toward the end of the first half, though it never quite got into a groove running the football. Wentz was hit just six times total, but Eagles backs averaged only 2.56 yards per carry. Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Peters at left tackle and had a quiet game, which is a good thing of course.

Grade: B-

DEFENSIVE LINE

Derek Barnett: 3 TFL, 2.0 SK

The front four controlled the point of attack all night. That won't necessarily show up in the box score, but Kirk Cousins was under pressure from start to finish. Barnett and Fletcher Cox each registered a sack, while Brandon Graham hit the quarterback's arm mid-throw to force an interception. Meanwhile, the NFL's No. 1 rush defense was at it again, limiting Washington's backs to 54 yards on 14 carries.

Grade: A

LINEBACKERS

Jordan Hicks: Exited game in 1st quarter (ankle)

Hicks went down on the second play of the game, which was especially tough, because the Eagles were already without Mychal Kendricks. The absences showed, as Najee Goode was more like Najee Bad (ahem). Goode failed to pick up an assignment that resulted in a seven-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson in the second quarter, and generally was a liability in coverage over the middle. Nigel Bradham did what he could recording three tackles, two quarterback hits and a tackle for a loss, but the linebackers were shorthanded, and it showed (see breakdown).

Grade: B-

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Malcolm Jenkins: 10 TKL, 1.0 SK

On paper, Cousins' line looks borderline spectacular, completing 30 of 40 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns. Then again, most of that production — 203 yards and all three scores — went to tight ends and running backs. The Eagles really didn't allow Washington to do anything significant on the perimeters or deep down the field. Jenkins was all over the field making key stops, and Corey Graham came up with a gift-wrapped interception.

Grade: A

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jake Elliott: 2/3 FG, 4/4 XP

Nothing spectacular. Just another all-around solid special teams performance for the Eagles. Elliott was mostly automatic once again, connecting on field goals of 50 and 42 yards, and only missed from 45 after the outcome was all but decided. Donnie Jones averaged 51.0 yards per punt, with one kick downed inside the opponents' 20. And Kamu Grugier-Hill forced a fumble that Corey Clement very nearly recovered deep in Washington territory. The units were a strength, as usual.

Grade: A-

COACHING

Eagles' record: 6-1

Credit Doug Pederson — he never got away from the run against Washington, even though it clearly wasn't working. His team also never lost its composure despite a rough start against what some would consider an inferior opponent. The Eagles also survived injuries to some of their best players, yet never missed a beat on either side of the ball. This team is for real, in part because so is its head coach. Great job taking care of business at home, even when for awhile there is seemed things might be askew.

Grade: A+

Eagles 34, Redskins 24: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Eagles 34, Redskins 24: Studs, duds, turning point and more

The Eagles didn't look like the best team in the NFL. Not even close.

For most of the first half on Monday Night Football, the Eagles were a mess. They were committing penalties, giving up big plays and floundering on offense.

Then things changed.

Then Carson Wentz started to look like an MVP. And then the Eagles started to look like the team fans in Philadelphia have become used to seeing over the first half of the season.

They started to look like the best team in the NFL again.

The Eagles recovered from their early missteps to beat Washington 34-24 at the Linc on Monday night to remain in control of the division and the conference (see 10 observations).

With the win, the Eagles are 6-1 and are all alone with the best record in the NFL. They also gained more ground, sweeping the season series with Washington, which fell to 3-3.

While the Eagles picked up a big win, they did suffer a couple losses. Jason Peters (knee) and Jordan Hicks (ankle) both left the game and did not return. The Eagles have lost important players before but these will be hard to overcome. 

Wentz was dynamic on Monday Night Football. In a second straight nationally televised game, Wentz dazzled and showed why his name is at the forefront of the NFL MVP discussion.

Wentz completed 17 of 25 passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His four touchdowns went to four different receivers. Wentz finished the game with a passer rating of 126.3. It's the third game in a row he's had a passer rating over 100 and it's just the sixth such game of his career.

Turning point
The Eagles looked awful early in the game, but then they broke out of a funk when Wentz hit Mack Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown bomb. That changed the game and brought some life back into the Linc.

Key stat
Before the Arizona game, Wentz had never had a three-touchdown game. He has three in a row now and 11 in three games.

Wentz has more touchdown passes in the last three games (11) than 19 teams have all season.

Offensive stud
Wentz is the real deal. After a bad start, he made some spectacular plays and carried the team. He's a legitimate MVP candidate.

Offensive dud
Torrey Smith didn't have much of an impact. He didn't have a catch and was targeted just once.

Defensive stud
Malcolm Jenkins played a great game on Monday night. He was everywhere. He stopped Jordan Reed on a key third down before Wentz hit Hollins on the deep touchdown pass.

Defensive dud
We'll give this to Najee Goode but that's probably unfair. It looked like Chris Thompson was his responsibility on the touchdown. Hard duty, as Jim Schwartz would say.

Key plays
• Corey Graham picked off a Kirk Cousins pass to give the Eagles great field position and Jake Elliott drilled a 42-yarder to add three more points.

• On 3rd-and-8, Wentz somehow pulled off a magic trick and escaped a sure sack. He was able to escape and scramble for 17 yards. He capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. It was Wentz's fourth TD pass of the game and it put the Eagles up 31-17.

• Cousins hit Reed on a short touchdown pass to cut into the Eagles' lead. It made the score 24-17.

• Wentz threw a ridiculous pass while getting hit by two guys and hit Corey Clement in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown. Clement tapped both feet in to put the Eagles up 24-10.

• After a Washington three-and-out, Wentz and the Eagles got the ball with 1:52 left in the half and drove down to score another touchdown. The big play on the drive was a 46-yarder to Zach Ertz, who then caught a four-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles up 17-10.

• Wentz hit Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown bomb in the second quarter to tie the game at 10-10. It was Wentz's fourth 50-yard pass of the season. He had just three all last season.

• Cousins found Thompson for a seven-yard touchdown to put Washington up 10-3. Thompson was wide open in the flat and the Eagles were missing Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks.

• Elliott drilled a 50-yarder to start the second-quarter scoring. It was his 11th straight make.

• Derek Barnett picked up his first solo sack to end a Washington drive in the first quarter. It came at a good time.

• After Washington kicked a field goal on their opening drive, the Eagles' first offensive drive was a disaster. They had four penalties and gained just five yards. It ended when Wentz threw a deep interception that was basically an interception.

Injuries
Ronald Darby (ankle) might return next week but was inactive against Washington. So was Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), who popped up on the Eagles' injury report during the week.

The Eagles lost Hicks (ankle) on the second play of the game and Peters (knee) on the first drive of the second half (see story).

Up next
The Eagles have two more home games before their bye week. Next Sunday, they'll face the winless 49ers and then face the Broncos before their week off.